Sabina cimarrona (Eckenwalder 2009).
Various authors have described between one and four species of Podocarpus from Cuba and Hispaniola. If there are four species, P. aristulatus and P. ekmanii both occur together in eastern Cuba and may not be distinguishable; it appears then that P. ekmanii is merely a later synonym of P. aristulatus. The other two species, P. angustifolius (sensu strictu) and P. buchii, have disjunct ranges, P. angustifolius primarily in western Cuba and P. buchii confined to Hispaniola. The Hispaniola trees have slightly smaller receptacles (8-10 mm long) and slightly smaller adult leaves (1.5-4 cm long) than the Cuban trees. All of them, though, are small, shrubby trees of very similar appearance; it would be interesting to see if they are even distinguishable in a common garden. I follow the lead of Eckenwalder (2009) in reducing them to two varieties, the type and Podocarpus angustifolius Griseb. var. aristulatus (Parl.) Staszk. 1988. The two taxa differ only in their geography (var. angustifolius being from western Cuba, and var. aristulatus from eastern Cuba and Hispaniola), and in the width of the adult leaves (slightly greater in var. aristulatus). This distinction is more appropriate for varieties than for separate species.
Synonymy for the type: none.
Synonymy for var. aristulatus:
There has been some controversy regarding the type specimens of the two varieties. Farjon (2010) places var. aristulatus into synonymy with P. angustifolius on the basis of his comparison of the types of each species in the collections at Kew, noting that the types were mixed collections representing more than one tree (his arguments are more nuanced, though; see his text for details). Mill and Schilling (2010; Schilling and Mill 2010), however, note that since 1868 the name P. aristulatus has been generally applied to trees from eastern Cuba (the type of P. angustifolius is from western Cuba). They have addressed the problem with the existing type collections with a proposal to designate a new, conserved type of P. aristulatus (or, in this treatment, var. aristulatus).
Shrub, or tree to 10 m tall and 100 cm diameter, often with multiple trunks, and an irregular crown of many short branches bearing pairs or whorls of 2-8 cm long twigs, which bear dense foliage. Bark thin, smooth, brown weathering to gray. Twigs green, variable in thickness and pliability, prominently grooved between the leaf bases. Foliar buds ovoid to globose, covered by triangular to rounded, stiff, keeled bud scales. Leaves densely arranged on twigs, slightly assurgent, stiff, coriaceous, shiny dark green above, yellow-green below, adult leaves 15-50 × 3-7 mm; juvenile leaves up to 100 × 13 mm; straight or slightly falcate; base cuneate on a 1-3 mm petiole; apex triangular bearing a sharp prickle. Pollen cones 10-15 × 3-4 mm, solitary in the axils of leaves. Seed cones solitary on a 2-7 mm stalk, swollen and juicy red when ripe, globose to ovoid, 5-10 mm long (Eckenwalder 2009, Farjon 2010).
Var. angustifolius has leaves that are approximately parallel-sided and mostly 3-4.5 mm wide. Var. aristulatus has leaves that are widest near the middle, 5-7 mm wide (Eckenwalder 2009).
The type variety is from Cuba: Las Villas, Pinar del Rio (Farjon 1998). Based on data from 12 collection localities, it grows at elevations of 400 ±240 m. Within its range, mean annual temperature is 23.3°C, with an average minimum in the coldest month of 15.7°C, and a mean annual precipitation of 1660 mm (Biffin et al. 2011, Table S5). The IUCN reports that this taxon is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future. This is due to ongoing habitat loss within a very limited range that is already severely fragmented.
Var. aristulatus is from Cuba; Dominican Republic: Cordillera Central; and Haiti: Massif de la Selle (Farjon 1998). Based on data from 10 collection localities, it grows at elevations of 1120 ±690 m. Within its range, mean annual temperature is 18.9°C, with an average minimum in the coldest month of 10.9°C, and a mean annual precipitation of 1670 mm (Biffin et al. 2011, Table S5). IUCN reports that this taxon is "vulnerable" to extinction in the wild due to continued loss of habitat within a range that is already limited and severely fragmented.
The species has no commercial significance. It is occasionally seen in ornamental plantings in Cuba (Farjon 2010).
In Cuba, it occurs in the Reserva Ecologica Alturas de Banao, and in Parque Nacional La Mensura Pilotos. In Haiti it occurs in La Visite National Park, and in the Dominican Republic, in the Sierra de Bahoruco National Park.
The epithet angustifolius means "narrow leaves."
Grisebach, A.H.R. 1866. Cat. Pl. Cubensis: 217 (1866).
Mill, R. R., and D. M. S. Schilling. 2010. Typification and nomenclature of Podocarpus angustifolius Griseb. and Podocarpus aristulatus Parl. (Podocarpaceae). Taxon 59(3):935-956.
Parlatore in Candolle, Prodr. 16 (2): 513 (1868).
Schilling, D. M. S., and R. R. Mill. 2010. Proposal to conserve the name Podocarpus aristulatus (Podocarpaceae) with a conserved type. Taxon 59(3):973-975.
The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World (which treats P. buchii as a good species).
Last Modified 2017-11-12